PICK OF THE WEEK: Freja immersed in fate, ancient mythology with mesmerizing, jarring debut ‘Tides’

Some things are just meant to be, a product of fate that was supposed to happen no matter what. You don’t have to believe in supernatural forces or religion or anything like that to buy into this concept as we’ve all likely had things happen in our life that lined up perfectly and seemingly out of nowhere. It’s the magic of the universe, friends.

That very thing happened and caused the formation of atmospheric, folkish black metal duo Freja, a union combining C. (also of Witte Wieven) and W. (of Laster, Verval) on their debut record “Tides.” The duo came together while working on Maalstroom, a commissioned piece for Roadburn 2019 that was a supergroup also featuring members of the Dutch black metal scene including Fluisteraars, Turia, Terzij de Horde, Verwoed, and Grey Aura. Their energy carried over and not only linked them romantically but also acted as the building blocks for Freja. This record is full of life and energy, a six-track album that feels like it pulls you into the clouds, over the mountains, and through glorious blazes that will infuse your heart and mind with much-needed energy. Lyrically the band basks in ancient myths (their name adopted from the Norse goddess of the same name) and applies those ideas to what’s often volatile modern times.

“Our Chosen Path” begins on a black metal onslaught with wild howls and spirited playing, bringing with it folkish flourishes that enhance the mood. There’s a fire-in-the-sky intensity even as the murk settles in, melody swells, and W’s howls belt you in the chest, the track stomping before bleeding away. “Scattered Shields” rushes in and heads into foggy melodies that feel like a dewy, obscured early spring morning. W’s vocals echo as the playing jars, and huge, atmospheric leads race to the surface, rocks split and rain down, and the rampaging feels calculated but also relentless, bleeding into the earth. “Dusk” slithers in coldness and dour environment, the growls crush, and C’s vocals work their way in, adding a new, alluring element into the music. A stormy surge takes flight, the rains pick up, and tornadic pressure runs wild, unloading beastly hammers. C’s voice seeps in again as a hazy push makes its last stand, the song dissolving into stark waters.

“Cataclysm” explodes with catchy riffs and harsh wails, W’s voice wrenching and exploding in the air. A daring pace picks up and races heavily, and the crunch multiplies, pushing through stinging guitars and enveloping murk. “Of Those Stricken By Fate” introduces delicate guitars as C’s singing takes over, sending mysterious waves into your bloodstream. It feels like a dissociative dream, the ambiance captures you, and everything rests at sea, the storm conquered. “Cloaks of Valor” is the 9:06-long closer and opens in a fury, splattering and sending punches flying, the growls holding their own. Hazy and vibrant, the wild shrieks tear into your muscles, the energy flows generously, and the leads glimmer. A slight pullback returns in the midst of guitars scorching, triumphant melodies dominating, and W’s calls chilling your bones before everything fades into the dusk.

Whether conjuring ancient myths or delivering passionate black metal that feels as much an homage as a carrying on the torch makes Freja’s debut one that will sneak up on you and take you down. “Tides” is as fitting a title as any for this surging record as it sometimes feels like you’re on the shore, looking into the distance, feeling the waters wash over you and try to pull you out. This is a great debut, a promising union both musically and in real life that hopefully lives for a very long time.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/frejaband

To buy the album, go here: https://www.babylondoomcultrecords.com/?s=pre-order&post_type=product

For more on the label, go here: https://www.babylondoomcultrecords.com/

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